All posts by sandrafenton

Grammar Resources

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Communications, writing and grammar used to be the subjects that I would stay away from. Since returning to college it made me realize that I needed to brush up on my skills. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I realized that I didn’t need to know all of the rules of writing. I did however; need to know where I could find resources when I needed them. Here are some of the websites that I found useful over the years:

1. Perdue Owl
This is an On-line Writing Lab (OWL) and has an easy-to-use site map and search engine. I use this site frequently when citing sources for my papers because it shows me how to cite in APA and MLA. But I also found it useful for grammar, punctuation and writing processes.

2. Journalists Toolbox

This website has a lot of copy editing resource links on the main page. It’s easy to search for what you’re looking for and you can follow them on Twitter. This site is presented by The Society of Professional Journalists and a great resource for writers.

3. Proofreaders’ Marks

If you are doing a lot of copyediting, this site will help you decipher the proofreader marks for editing properly.

4. Writing Forward

This site has easy navigation and gives you tips and tricks on better writing, grammar, writing exercises, creative writing and more.

When you’re stuck or need some help with your writing, I hope that you will utilize these resources and find them as helpful as I do.


Do Food Trucks Have Safe Food?

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I work in downtown St. Paul and over the last couple of years the number of food trucks has increased throughout the area at lunchtime. I see the number of people waiting in line to get food.  I look at the menu boards and think that the prices are reasonable, but I often times wonder, how clean and safe is the food that is being prepared.

Large corporations have jumped on the band wagon and are using food trucks for catering to their employees in their parking lots. This new style of catering is cheaper than paying a catering business within the company. This also keeps their employees on-site which means fewer employees are traveling to restaurants for lunch. The only drawback is that corporations may need to work with the cities they reside in because of city ordinances.  Some cities such as St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Burnsville and Lakeville have changed ordnances to resolve this issue in order for food trucks to sell in the suburbs.

I found that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has a process that is quite extensive and you really have to a strategy and plan if you want to run a food truck at least 30 days in advance of construction of a truck. You also have to purchase licenses, meet NSF standards for equipment, dishwashing and hand washing facilities, water supply and liquid waste disposal plans that are not hazardous to public health.

In 2012, CBS investigated food truck safety and noted that legitimate food trucks should have a license displayed where people can see it and they need to have an inspection a minimum of one time per year. Inspectors found food temperatures to be the most common problem, but other issues could be heating lamps not working properly, melted ice cube tubs holding soft drinks spreading germs from hands onto the counter, and chemicals used for cleaning that did not have proper labeling and could potentially be mixed with food bottles. In all, even though there were minor issues, they say that none of these issues would be life threatening and that food trucks are relatively safe.

I’m not saying that there aren’t salmonella or other bacterial issues, but after researching food safety on the food trucks, I am now more inclined to purchase food on the streets next time a see a food truck.



Medical Marijuana Approved in Minnesota

Twenty-two states, including Minnesota, have approved medical marijuana for use. Governor Mark Dayton signed the legislative bill to legalize medical marijuana on May 29th. It should be available by mid-2015 in the forms of oil, vapor and pills for patients that have a prescription.

The approval of medical marijuana is crucial for many patients that have chronic pain, nausea due to chemotherapy, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, migraines, and other debilitating illnesses. For people that have these illnesses, they find when marijuana is used; it will help the chemicals in their body to reduce pain and inflammation. It also helps improve terminally ill patients to have a better quality of life.

The use of marijuana does have its pros and cons:


  • relieves nausea and vomiting
  • relieve muscles spasms
  • help appetite loss caused from cancer, HIV/AIDS
  • relieves pain
  • does not increase the risk of lung diseases


  • short-term memory loss
  • impaired cognitive ability
  • can damage your lung tissue
  • potential risk of abuse and addiction
  • contains cancer-causing compounds.

Although the medical marijuana lacks FDA-approval, the decision to use medical marijuana will depend on your illness. Talk to your physician to see if this is an option for you.


In my opinion almost anyone should be able to create a garden.  It just takes a little bit of time and patience to start enjoying the great outdoors and the fruits of your labor.

If you’re a beginner, click on this link to see the 5 gardening basics for beginners.  This site will show you the following:

  1. How to prepare your soil
  2. Why watering matters
  3. Why you want a sunny location
  4. How to care for your garden
  5. Why you need patience

Minnesota has a very short summer growing timeframe which means that we want to utilize our resources to get the most out of our gardens.  This link is for the University of Minnesota and it will help you with the following:

  1. Troubleshoot garden issues
  2. Diagnose pest issues
  3. Plant diseases
  4. Help you with pesticide safety
  5. Current issues, such as emerald ash borer

Don’t forget to utilize other resources on the Internet if you run into any problems. Both of these links should help you in creating and maintaining a successful garden this summer. It’s not hard to have a garden and once your flowers, fruits & vegetables come to life you will be happy that you created a garden this year.


Tiny Houses

Conscientious consumers are becoming more environmental friendly and are now building tiny houses, also known as micro homes.  Consumers are shedding their excess “stuff” and building these homes in order to spend less money on large mortgages. ABC news aired a story showing us just how small one couple’s home is, and compared the 221 square foot home to the size of a Suburban.  The concept of a small living space has become a phenomenon in the market place and sales have risen 160% over the last year.


The advantage of living a simple lifestyle offers people a way of building their dream home ranging from $20,000 to $90,000. This gives homeowners the ability to create unique spaces built to their specifications and allows them to keep their mortgage small to have more money and freedom to travel. Giving up space is only a small price to pay when you can have a solar power roof, a dream kitchen with your favorite spices hanging from the ceiling, and an escape door through the back of the shower. Your only limitation is your imagination.

However, there are some disadvantages to tiny homes. A tiny home weighs more than an RV and is harder to tow. They attract a lot of attention, and it can be a challenge to find a location that will allow a tiny home to stay. However, they do say it is not impossible to find places.

The craze for the tiny houses is expanding to tiny motels, tiny culture clubs, and tiny house talk blogs.  These groups of tiny home owners are happy with their decisions to go smaller and they are growing in numbers. Both the story on ABC news and the blog shows us that anything in life is possible regardless of the size of our homes.

Even though I feel as though this is a great alternative lifestyle which appears to be more ecological friendly, I feel that that the video and blog neglect to look at safety when bad weather conditions arise. The living space is small, but you are probably not going to hook up your vehicle and high tail it out of a bad weather situation. Does that mean that you would run to a neighbor’s house or hope that you find a ditch nearby?  Regardless of what you chose to do, you would need to have an emergency plan for whatever disaster may arise.

What is ALS?


ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a fatal neuromuscular disease that affects the muscles in the spinal cord and brain. Individuals can be affected in different ways and no one person may have the same challenges. Symptoms can be muscle weakness in the arms and legs, jumbled speech, and swallowing and breathing problems.

With the weakening of the muscles they begin to atrophy (become smaller) and become paralyzed as the disease progresses. The life expectancy is 2-5 years after a diagnosis and can affect any race, gender or age. There currently is no cure for ALS and every 90 minutes 1 person is diagnosed with ALS.

Seventy-five years ago Lou Gehrig had ALS. He was a baseball player and died at the age of 37 after fighting his 2 year battle. If you’re interested in his story you can click here to read more.

In 2008, my mother was diagnosed with ALS. She was a courageous, strong-willed woman who fought a 4-year battle with ALS. I can’t say enough about the program at the U of M. With their monthly ALS support group, my mom found “people like her” which made her realize she wasn’t alone. If you’re intrested in more infrormation on ALS, click here.